Warnick bill to support Moses Lake Irrigation and Rehab District signed by governor

OLYMPIA… Legislation sponsored by state Sen. Judy Warnick, Senate Bill 5460 was signed into law this week, supporting the state’s only irrigation and rehabilitation district located in Moses Lake (MLIRD). The new law makes needed changes to how these districts operate, aimed at clarifying assessments and improved planning for critical projects. Rep. Tom Dent sponsored the companion bill in the state House.

Irrigation districts that meet certain requirements can become irrigation and rehabilitation districts, with the purpose of bolstering irrigation systems and improving shoreline health. MLIRD was founded in 1928 to provide irrigation after being granted its water right. Now, the mission of the special purpose district has grown to protect Moses Lake as a social, economic and environmental resource for the broader community and state.

“Getting things right takes hard work, and I’m thankful to all the stakeholders and my colleagues who helped pass this law so that our community can more sustainably and transparently operate this unique district,” said Warnick, R-Moses Lake. “MLIRD will be able to continue its invaluable work for the people they serve with tools to plan and improve engagement with the public.”

Funding methods for the Moses Lake Irrigation and Rehabilitation District were challenged in court, forcing it to lose out on funds. The law will fix calculation problems, allowing for a fairer assessment in line with state constitutional requirements.

“This legislation is necessary to ensure the health and safety of residents in Moses Lake. This puts the district back to work so they can do the job they were intended,” Dent said, R-Moses Lake. “The district can maintain their assessment and keep the lake clean, so it remains a popular recreational for the community.”

Moses Lake Irrigation and Rehabilitation District will be required to annually determine its monetary needs for rehabilitation operations. In addition, the district must provide notice of proposed assessments and hold equalization hearings similar to other special-purpose districts.

The law also limits the budget intended for rehabilitation purposes not to exceed $1 per $1,000 of the aggregate assessed value of all property in the district. Exceeding that amount requires authorization from electors in the district by a majority vote.